Blue Sky Director of Sales Celebrates 125 Years of Nassau County with Local Officials

Blue Sky Director of Sales Celebrates 125 Years of Nassau County with Local Officials

calendar January 18, 2024

Nassau County launched a year-long celebration to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the county on Jan. 4, ringing in 2024 with an acknowledgment of the county’s long and proud history.

Local politicians and a great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt gathered in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building to announce the county’s plans to honor its history with events and promote educational initiatives.

The area that became Nassau County was originally inhabited by numerous native tribes, including the Marsapeque, Matinecoc, and Sacatogue. By the early 1600s, the Dutch began to settle the island, forming part of the colony they called New Netherland. By the mid to late 1600’s the English began to populate the area as well.

Nassau County, as it is known today, was formed in 1899, following approval from the state Legislature, as the three towns that make up what is now the county agitated to be removed from Queens’ jurisdiction when Queens became a borough of New York City.

Now, 125 years later, Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County executive, reflected on the history of the county and how it had always welcomed in myriads of people, from first the Dutch and English to later waves of immigrants.

“We’re going to celebrate the rich history of Nassau County over the last 125 years,” Blakeman said. “Nassau County is home to every race, every religion, every ethnic group, and we get along. We get along because we respect each other and we care about each other and we love each other, and although we may have disagreements from time to time, we settle our disagreements in a peaceful way by agreeing to disagree.”

Blakeman also reflected on the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, whose personal history was uniquely tied to the county in which he spent the latter years of his life as a resident of Oyster Bay. The executive described how Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech, an oft-quoted excerpt from a speech he gave at the Sorbonne in Paris titled “Citizenship in a Republic,” had inspired Blakeman and thousands like him throughout the decades since the president wrote it.

Tweed Roosevelt, great-grandson of the 26th president and chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Institute and the Roosevelt School at Long Island University, was on hand to reflect on how Nassau County had changed in the century since the patriarch of his family had lived at Sagamore Hill. Roosevelt, who grew up in Cold Spring Harbor, discussed his memories of the area and how it would have been in his great-grandfather’s day.

Roosevelt emphasized his great-grandfather’s deep attachment to Oyster Bay and Nassau County, and that despite his numerous travels throughout nearly every continent, the Rough Rider always returned to the county he called home. He added that the president did this despite the tragic loss of his wife, Alice Lee, whom he had been building the home for.

“He was building his house for his first wife, it was going to be called Leeholm, and it had been more or less completed until on a tragic day, Valentine’s Day, his wife and mother both died,” Roosevelt said. “But he decided to continue with the house and renamed it Sagamore Hill. It was his home from then on.”

Joseph Saladino, Town of Oyster Bay supervisor, also referenced the influence of President Roosevelt on Nassau County that continues to this day, as well as other important historic figures and events that have taken place in Nassau over the years, from the music of Billy Joel to the creation of the first modern suburb. The supervisor added that while much changed over the decades, the people of Nassau County were the same hard-working and honorable people that Roosevelt had often written and spoken so fondly of over a century ago.

“Our rich history runs deep, and certainly deserves to be celebrated,” Saladino said. “We are thrilled to be recognized in the many facets that make Nassau County such a special place to live, to work, and to raise our families.”

Mazi Melesa Pilip, county legislator for Great Neck and the Republican candidate in the congressional special election for District 3, also emphasized how, as an Israeli immigrant in the early 2000s, she felt immediately welcomed into the county and her community by the families there. She pointed out that the county’s plan for social and educational programs would help grow the businesses in Nassau in addition to informing its residents of the proud history that they are a part of.

“This is a great time to be a resident of Nassau County,” Pilip said. “I cannot wait to see how we celebrate and highlight our county’s history.”

While the exact plan for the year’s activities was not discussed at the event, Blakeman’s office has previously confirmed that there will be over a dozen events planned throughout the year, starting with a Sheriff’s Ball on Jan. 18 to honor the foundation of the Sheriff’s Department, one of the first county agencies.